THE FOREST OF OFFENSE
The old, cracked sign read, "FOREST OF OFFENSE". I had seen this sign
before and I cringed at the sight of it. I looked beyond the sign and I
saw a canopy of trees shrouded in infinitely, thick darkness.
I stared dishearteningly for quite some time when, suddenly the Lord
appeared before me clothed in white radiance with His hand extended
towards mine beckoning me to come to Him. I knew that the Lord was
desiring of me to enter the foreboding forest. It was at this time that
the internal battle began to rage within my soul.
From past experience, I knew that in the Forest of Offense I would have
to come face to face with the uncomfortable task of confronting the
dark, lofty places of my own mind, my own heart. Though I so much
wanted to flee, I could not turn away from the Lord's outstretched hand
nor His piercing, beckoning eyes.
I hesitantly reached out my hand as the battle continued to rage
furiously within me, and I took His hand and together we entered through
the narrow gate, which was the entryway into the looming forest.
We were quickly swallowed up by the darkness, but the Lord was by my
side, holding my hand and guiding me every step of the way. I could
hear eerie, unidentifiable noises to the right and to the left,
somewhere beyond the trees. Every now and then I could hear the
flapping and rustling of wings overhead and the crunching of leaves and
the breaking of branches below as our feet took us deeper into the
It seemed we had been walking for quite some time when, all at once, I
could no longer feel the Lord's comforting hand holding mine. I knew He
was still nearby, but I could no longer see Him nor could I feel his
touch. I felt very alone, but not abandoned. I strongly sensed that I
needed to keep pressing forward and I knew that to turn back would
greatly grieve the Lord.
I was in the Forest of Offense, that place where the Lord desires of us
to come to terms with the dark places in our own heart, with the
bitterness, and the unforgiveness we harbor toward another due to
offense. Each step I took was agonizingly painful and my flesh demanded
again and again that I turn around.
Out of the dark gloominess came a low voice, almost a whisper, "That
person wronged you. You have every right to be angry with them."
Even though I did not recognize the deep voice, I knew exactly who the
voice was referring to and I had an overwhelming desire to want to agree
with this voice nestled in the shadows.
However, with a suddenness that was overpowering, out of the depths of
the thick blackness, shot forth the Word of God like an arrow and slew
the very words I had just been getting ready to agree with. "He who
covers over an offense promotes love...it is to his glory to overlook an
I found myself nodding in agreement with the Word of God, and when I did
this, the area I had just tread through was hit by a bolt of lightning
and it was instantaneously taken from darkness to light.
In stark contrast to this, up ahead, where I had yet to traverse, still
lay great darkness. As much as I still wanted to turn around, I was
compelled to continue on.
Out of the utter darkness came forth the same low-pitched voice from
earlier, "You should remove that person from your life, you're just
setting yourself up for more pain and disappointment if you allow them
to have access to you."
I so much wanted to come into agreement with this intrusive voice, but
once again the Word of God authoritatively penetrated the dense darkness
and pierced my heart.
"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have
against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all
these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect
I nodded in agreement and said, "Yes" to the Lord's Word. I looked
behind me where I had just passed through, and witnessed, yet, another
electrifying flash of lightning strike the hard ground bringing great
lumination to this area. I continued on into the darkness in front of
It seemed as if the tireless voice from the darkness would never cease,
as it relentlessly tried to ignite my now dwindling anger and pour salt
on my still wounded spirit. However, each time the incessant voice
would speak, the Word of God would break forth through the darkness and
shatter my inclination to want to agree with the voice.
Without exception, each time I made the choice to agree with the Word of
the Lord, bright lightning would illuminate the path where my footsteps
had just tread.
"Even if you were to forgive this person, how could you ever possibly
trust this person again?" said the, by now familiar, low voice, from the
I had made a decision. "I choose to forgive," I found myself responding
wholeheartedly to the voice, "and I choose to trust in the Lord with all
my heart and not to lean on my own understanding, and in all my ways to
acknowledge Him, and He will make my path straight."
The forest in back of me and the area in front of me were, suddenly,
immersed in intense light and I realized that I had come to the end of
My eyes could once more see the Lord standing next to me, but I knew
that He had been with me all along throughout the entire journey. I
embraced Him, never wanting to let Him go.
He motioned for me to turn around. Now that the forest was completely
lit up, I was amazed to see that what I had originally mistook as a
vast, dark forest was in reality just a few sparse trees with a small
path running in between them.
The cracked sign from earlier had split all the way through in two
places and the fallen pieces lay on the ground. The 'FO' in front of
the word 'FOREST' had fallen to the ground as had the 'OF OFFENSE' part
of the sign leaving only the word 'REST' attached to the post.
The Lord motioned for me to turn to the front again and there before me
was a long, narrow, straight path. I knew this was the path the Lord
was calling me to walk. Feeling as if an immense burden had been lifted
from me, I restfully set out for the journey ahead of me.